Anoka’s Green Haven Golf Course celebrates 75 years

Anoka’s Green Haven Golf Course – a city jewel encrusted with flowing fairways, noble trees and perfectly manicured greens – celebrates its 75th anniversary this year.

Early Saturday morning, an eager golfer tees off on the seventh, Green Haven club house shining through the trees to the west. Photo by Sue Austreng

Early Saturday morning, an eager golfer tees off on the seventh, Green Haven club house shining through the trees to the west. Photo by Sue Austreng

Larry Norland, director of golf for Green Haven, described several celebratory events scheduled for the coming months.

Next Saturday (May 26) people can play a round of golf for the same price that was charged on opening day in 1937 – 40 cents for 18 holes; 25 cents for nine holes. To schedule a tee time, call 763-576-2970.

Later this fall, a special gathering of members of Green Haven’s Men’s Club will take place to celebrate that club’s existence and its impact on Minnesota golf.

A Celebrate Anoka Golf Tournament will be held Sept. 10.

Several members of the Minnesota Golf Association are expected to participate in the Past Presidents Tournament.

“This course is so beautiful, and it’s been part of Anoka for so long, it’s really something to be celebrated,” Norland said.

 

A gleam in the golfers’ eyes

“At one time, Green Haven was not even a gleam in anybody’s eye,” ABC Newspapers’ late publisher Arch Pease wrote in a Jan. 27, 1989 Anoka County Union article commemorating the course’s 50th year.

A long and winding road led to what would become Green Haven Golf Course.

A fashionable foursome practices putting near Green Haven’s club house, circa 1940s. Photo courtesy of Dick Bennett

A fashionable foursome practices putting near Green Haven’s club house, circa 1940s. Photo courtesy of Dick Bennett

Anoka’s first golf course was located on property now known as Goodrich Field with the first tee in the neighborhood of the entrance of the Anoka junior high school on Fourth Avenue. Several fairways crossed each other “making for an interesting, but very hazardous layout,” Pease wrote.

Anoka’s second golf course was called Parker’s Golf Course and was laid out on property owned by Sam Parker, laid out on the former Akin property at the foot of Third Avenue and west to the Rum River.

The third golf course in the area was the L.O. Jacob Golf Course, or “Jake’s Course,” as it was affectionately called by some. That course stood where Mississippi Elementary School now stands.

“This course was popularized by many of the good golfers of the area and the first Anoka Men’s Golf Club was formed here,” Pease wrote.

Jake’s Course closed in 1936 and Anoka’s now-75 year old course opened the fall of 1937.

Pease said Green Haven was built on the sand plain on the western side of the city of Anoka “where some people said no golf course could ever be built.”

But sure enough it was built and as the new course neared completion, a Name the Course Contest was announced with a season’s free play awarded to the lucky winner.

After reviewing more than 100 entries, the Name the Course committee chose the name Green Haven, a name submitted by Clara Wickstrom, “who was also a very fine golfer,” according to Arch Pease.

When Green Haven opened in the fall of 1937 – a full two years after breaking ground, designing fairways and bunkers, and sinking holes in grassy manicured greens – it was just a nine-hole course.

But golf wasn’t the only diversion practiced on the property. There were grounds for lawn bowling, an area set aside for trap and skeet shooting, and a rifle and pistol range where the 18th fairway is now.

 

Green Haven grows

It wasn’t until 1958, when the Men’s Club purchased land from the railroad and gave it to the city, that the back nine was developed and Green Haven became an 18-hole championship golf course.

Golfing at Green Haven carries rich history steeped in tradition, and since Green Haven opened back in 1937, the fairways and greens have welcomed golfers from miles beyond the historic city where it rests.

“All of the other golf courses didn’t show up until the ‘60s and ‘70s. If you played golf, this was the place,” Norland said.

Of course, Green Haven also entices its hometown golfers to the links.

“Anyone around the age of 40 who lives here has played here,” Norland said.

Among established groups golfing at Green Haven Golf Course is the Men’s Club, established in 1928 and boasting some 275 members.

“At its peak there were something like 400 members and it was an exclusive club, requiring recommendation and an initiation fee before you could join,” Norland said.

There are also two Ladies Clubs, the morning club with a more competitive flair to it, and the evening club for the more relaxed lady golfers.

Anoka High School’s boys’ and girls’ golf teams practice at Green Haven, and the course hosts several annual tournaments including the Celebrate Anoka Golf Tournament, the Past Presidents Tournament, the Halloween Tournament, the Tournament of Champions and the Club Championship.

Also, at the great urging and direction of Jack Campbell, long-time Anoka High School basketball coach and athletic director, Green Haven for many, many years hosted the annual State of Minnesota Junior Chamber of Commerce Tournament (also known as the Minnesota State Jaycees Tournament).

“This is a great tournament course because there are not a lot of thick woods or grasses,” Norland said. “It plays pretty quick.”

And Norland reports an average of 33,000 rounds of golf played every year at Green Haven.

“It’s one of the top four or five 18-hole courses in the state,” Norland said.

For more information about Green Haven (located at 2800 Greenhaven Road, Anoka) or to schedule a tee time, look for them on Facebook (www.facebook.com/greenhavengolfcourse) or call 763-576-2970.

Editor’s note: Legend has it that when Anoka’s golf course was first named it was called Green Haven. Later the words were combined and it was known as Greenhaven, but Norland said, in order to honor its history, the official name of the golf course was recently reverted back to the original, two-word name, Green Haven.

Sue Austreng is at
sue.austreng@ecm-inc.com


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